Stressed Out

Let’s talk about stress. We are all aware thru our fast lives just how “stressful” our lives can be. Deadlines, have to’s, obligations, commitments, and what if’s, all physically take their toll on us by raising our body’s defense system, and stimulating our fight/flight response to a constant level of alertness.

Actually, the stress response is deeply connected to our survival instinct. In the beginning, when we were just a couple of cells… two fundamental influences arose at that level. Not a thinking level, but, from a purely biological one: feeling pressure or feeling tension. Not even at a level of  “I am feeling…,” but at the survival level of each cell (too many of us, I need more room, pressure) If the cell did not repsond, it died. Too many cells trying to cover a bigger area as we grew- too much tension- need to make more or die. From there we get differentiation and, low and behold, 9 months later, a human being. Pressure and tension are stressors.

The simple truth is that we actually NEED stress in order to survive.

Okay then, where is this leading? We have always had survival stressors. What is different today about our level of stress compared to previous years? I think we are moving faster, life is moving faster and we are losing touch with our bodies and our inner guidance. Stress pushes us forward and it keeps us growing on the cellular level. It happens every minute of our life. We use up the oxygen we take in, and the cells call for more (causing us to breathe). When we feel cold, that is a stressor to the body, so we create more heat. Hunger is a stressor that tells the mind we need more fuel. So we eat. There are so many pathways in the body that when working together, we function at a healthy and productive level.

So how can we creatively manage our own individual stress levels?

Some people thrive on push. Others quickly become overwhelmed and come to a dead stop. The first thing is to really think about what motivates you and how you respond to pressure or tension. Developing a routine of some kind seems to work for some people and for others who are TOO regimented, perhaps some unstructured time instead. Might feel weird at first but, it’s worth trying.

Having a regular bodywork session, massage or energy work or something that helps get you back in your body is essential. When we start to feel the effects of too much stress, we lose touch with our “selves”  and what we do feel of our “selves” is often painful.

When we are under the influence of too much stress, our muscles tend to contract. Have you ever heard of a stressed out person saying, “gee, my body feels so loose and flexible”! Unlikely.

When the fabric of our being is contracted and tight, there is less circulation, more congestion in the tissues and less ability for new healthy tissue growth. It creates a domino effect of tightness and pain. A simple routine of stretching, walking, massage, some kind of hands on therapy can do wonders – even once a month works. As soon as one makes the appointment, the session has begun. The body/mind takes in a breath of fresh air just knowing “I have a massage coming.”

 

Annie Perry LMT